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  1. #1
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    Default tent floor damp after rain; footprint dry on bottom but puddles of water on top

    Hi. Sorry for the long title.

    I stayed on the AT in my Protrail tarptent during a rainy night last night (which I love) and noticed something this morning. Do you have any clues as to what is happening?

    The inner floor was damp but it didn't rain in the tent, just some condensation on the inner walls.
    I have a separate footprint and when I was packing up I noticed that the top was wet with several puddles. The bottom, the part on the ground, was bone dry.

    I want to be as dry as possible in all kinds of weather and am still trying to figure this tent out.

    I will add that I was under some trees, as Tarptent suggests, but I was also in a little valley, not on a hill, so I don't know if that has anything to do with it.

    What a mystery (to me).

    Thanks.
    Booker

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    maybe some rain made its way on top of the footprint instead of underneath if part of it was close to the ground. If its going to rain overnight I try to put sticks underneath my footprint all along the edges to make sure it's propped up a couple inches incase it starts flowing under my tent.... or maybe with condensation on the inner walls it was wetter on the outer walls, and some small drips of water followed the tent down and under and accumulated in a few puddles.
    NoDoz
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  3. #3

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    If the footprint extends beyond the edge of the floor of the tent, water can hit the exposed part of the footprint and seep under the tent floor.
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  4. #4

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    Using a footprint under a tent impedes water drainage under the tent floor into the ground---because the foot print is sandwiching water between the tent floor and the ground cloth---i.e. puddles on top of the foot print. If the hydrostatic head of the tent floor is low (like 1,500mm) this water can sponge up thru the floor due to body and gear weight. And the footprint doesn't have to stick out beyond the bottom of the tent for water to get between---in a deluge downpour sheeting ground water will flow under the ground cloth and on top of the ground cloth.

    Then there is regular condensation which occurs between the tent floor and your sleeping pad and/or gear.

    My solution to all of this is to use my ground cloth inside the tent---it's an added layer of thorn protection for my Thermarests, it keeps condensation between the tent floor and the ground cloth---and it will never collect water puddles in a heavy rainstorm.

    Plus, it can easily be removed and cleaned instead of cleaning out the tent floor---and if you mark one side with a felt marker then the dry side will always be facing up at your next camp. And if the thing is white it's very easy to see things on the floor.

    Here's my set up---with a 10mil tarp cut to size---
    Trip 201 (19)-XL.jpg

  5. #5
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    Default Tent floor damp after rain

    First off, thanks everyone for your useful answers.

    I'm intrigued by the answer below, it makes sense to me. My footprint is paper-like Tyvek, and it makes a lot of crinkling noises. Does yours do that or do you have one made from a different fabric?

    I want to try this method.
    Booker


    Quote Originally Posted by Tipi Walter View Post
    Using a footprint under a tent impedes water drainage under the tent floor into the ground---because the foot print is sandwiching water between the tent floor and the ground cloth---i.e. puddles on top of the foot print. If the hydrostatic head of the tent floor is low (like 1,500mm) this water can sponge up thru the floor due to body and gear weight. And the footprint doesn't have to stick out beyond the bottom of the tent for water to get between---in a deluge downpour sheeting ground water will flow under the ground cloth and on top of the ground cloth.

    Then there is regular condensation which occurs between the tent floor and your sleeping pad and/or gear.

    My solution to all of this is to use my ground cloth inside the tent---it's an added layer of thorn protection for my Thermarests, it keeps condensation between the tent floor and the ground cloth---and it will never collect water puddles in a heavy rainstorm.

    Plus, it can easily be removed and cleaned instead of cleaning out the tent floor---and if you mark one side with a felt marker then the dry side will always be facing up at your next camp. And if the thing is white it's very easy to see things on the floor.

    Here's my set up---with a 10mil tarp cut to size---
    Trip 201 (19)-XL.jpg

  6. #6
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    I do something similar to Tipi -- I use one of those larger-sized mylar emergency blankets. It seems to be a good barrier against the moisture that builds on the floor...not necessarily from rain, but cold damp. It isn't noisy like Tyvek, and the silver makes it seem brighter inside, which is nice during the winter. It weighs about 3 ounces, but I can definitely live with that.
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    I read about Tipi's idea in a hiking book back in the days before any of you ever heard of the internet.

    Same book, a trick they gave for ALWAYS being able to keep your sleeping bag dry... stuff it in a stuff sack, then wrap that in a plastic bag, then place the whole thing in another sack for protection

  8. #8
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    I'm in the no footprint camp. It has been my experience is that your tent will be damp most morning, footprint, no footprint, same with the sleeping bag. You release moisture into your tent and sleeping bag. Trying to get gear dried out during the day is just part of my hiking ritual.

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    My footprint is mainly to protect from the ground, and my synthetic roofing material footprint (like Tyvek but much stronger and more water proof) allows me to set up just about anywhere without worrying about anything poking or even having to prep the ground much. I expect some moisture from condensation ect. but propping up the edges during a rain storm will allow a stream to flow under the tent (as long as it pitches away) with nothing to worry about. Since I always need a foot print with my tent that emergency blanket sounds like a good back up plan on a rainy stretch with lots of moisture building up in the tent.

    My footprint is about an inch short on all 4 sides and then the fly over hangs the main tent body some, keeping most moisture away.... but with days of rain and stuff not drying completely I've ended up with some moisture on the foot print - usually no puddles.
    NoDoz
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    Quote Originally Posted by HooKooDooKu View Post
    I read about Tipi's idea in a hiking book back in the days before any of you ever heard of the internet.

    Same book, a trick they gave for ALWAYS being able to keep your sleeping bag dry... stuff it in a stuff sack, then wrap that in a plastic bag, then place the whole thing in another sack for protection




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  11. #11
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    I've never used a footprint with my Tarptent Contrail. The floor will wick moisture from wet ground, so I sleep on a closed-cell pad and put the large plastic bag I store the sleeping bag in under my feet. In my experience, a footprint is just one more wet thing to deal with.

    If I set up on damp ground, I often notice the area under my sleeping pad is dry when I strike camp. I assume that's my body heat at work. My summer pad is pretty thin. So now I often use that phenomenon to dry damp clothing overnight--put it under the pad. With proper ventilation, it works pretty well. At least it's warm.
    "Throw a loaf of bread and a pound of tea in an old sack and jump over the back fence." John Muir on expedition planning

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    One more person supporting the no footprint solution here. Extra unnecessary weight and complication. . . unless you struggle with a porous tent floor, in which case, yeah, Tipi's solution is the only way to go in my opinion.
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  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by Booker View Post
    Hi. Sorry for the long title.

    I stayed on the AT in my Protrail tarptent during a rainy night last night (which I love) and noticed something this morning. Do you have any clues as to what is happening?

    The inner floor was damp but it didn't rain in the tent, just some condensation on the inner walls.
    I have a separate footprint and when I was packing up I noticed that the top was wet with several puddles. The bottom, the part on the ground, was bone dry. Booker
    Your footprint should be smaller than your pitched tent bottom by a few inches or more all around (if you use a footprint). Even with this precaution, sometimes rainwater will follow the tent wall onto the footprint. Water flowing on the ground can also get under tent and onto the footprint. Picking a slightly elevated domed location to pitch can help avoid this (if available). Personally I have stopped packing a footprint and just clear the area of sharp/abrasive items before I set up instead.
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  14. #14

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    You can wash your Tyvek and it won't be so crinkly. I would use a front loader.
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  15. #15

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    How big is your footprint?
    Dampness on top of the floor spells s-p-r-a-y to me. Same for being wet on top of the footprint, but dry under, if your footprint is oversized or sticking out on one side.

    Water getting through the floor on a new(you said you're still figuring it out) Tarptent seems pretty unlikely.

    Give a silnylon tent a side wind, and enough rainfall to make it sag, and you might be surprised how easily this happens.

    Here's my Notch this spring, after camping longways on a ridge and getting hit by heavy rain all night.
    FB_IMG_1591710874525.jpg
    I immediately tested everything in my yard after drying it out.
    My floor doesn't leak, and neither does my fly...

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by OwenM View Post
    How big is your footprint?
    Dampness on top of the floor spells s-p-r-a-y to me. Same for being wet on top of the footprint, but dry under, if your footprint is oversized or sticking out on one side.

    Water getting through the floor on a new(you said you're still figuring it out) Tarptent seems pretty unlikely.

    Give a silnylon tent a side wind, and enough rainfall to make it sag, and you might be surprised how easily this happens.

    Here's my Notch this spring, after camping longways on a ridge and getting hit by heavy rain all night.
    FB_IMG_1591710874525.jpg
    I immediately tested everything in my yard after drying it out.
    My floor doesn't leak, and neither does my fly...
    Dangit---your pic if true is a sad review of TarpTent---as this should NEVER HAPPEN in a tent no matter what. It's never happened in my double wall tents---and if it did that tent would be history.

    Getting hit by heavy rain all night with tremendous wind is a common feature of Southeast mountain weather.

  17. #17

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    That was totally my fault. I just set up in a familiar spot with no consideration for the weather.
    Crest of a ridge, broadside to the wind, heavy rain all night.
    Hardly an ideal scenario!
    I do think the fly sags a lot more when wet than when it was new, but I have over 300 nights in the Notch, and that's only the second time I've gotten wet under it. The other was 6yrs ago, using just the fly with a cuben floor, trapped for 14hrs inside a storm from Hurricane Odile at 11.5k'. I usually tighten everything down after a while, but just went to sleep and stayed there that night.
    Tarptent will always be the brand I look at first when needing a shelter. Thinking about buying the 2020 version of the Notch for everything except places with very high winds, which I got a MLD Solomid XL for.

    Just saying all it would take is a sideways wind coupled with some sag, or bad pitch to begin with, and voila...where'd this water come from?
    Last edited by OwenM; 06-09-2020 at 16:29.

  18. #18
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    Old thread, I know. I just wanted to make the case for no footprint at all. I never used one in 5 months on the trail and never had a damaged floor. I rid the site of anything that looks like it might cause damage (only takes a minute or two). I also used a Gossamer Gear 1/8 inch pad under my inflatable (never had a puncture in 5 months either.

    Also, Henry Shires (Tarptent) doesn't think footprints are necessary.

  19. #19

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    When I made my "tarptent" I just used the silnylon that was leftover to form the floor as something to attach the netting to. Never used a footprint with that tent and never had any problems with it.

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